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COA finds officer had no reason to make woman sit in squad car after stop

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 A police officer was not justified in requesting that the woman he pulled over for an expired driver’s license sit in his squad car while he decided how to proceed in the matter, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Bartholomew County Sgt. Kriston Weisner pulled over Stephanie Lucas’ car after running her license plate number and finding out her driver’s license was expired. She pulled into a gas station and was smoking a cigarette when the sergeant approached her car. A couple of minutes after he stopped her, Weisner requested Lucas come to his patrol car to “review the information and decide what we are going to do.” She complied and as they spoke about her expired license, he smelled alcohol on her breath. Lucas complied to field tests and a certified chemical breath test, which showed a BAC of 0.10.

She was charged with various drunken driving charges and a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, and she filed a motion to suppress. She claimed she was subjected to an investigatory detention that exceeded its permissible scope. The trial court denied her motion.

Judge Patricia Riley pointed out that Weisner could not identify one reason related to the initial purpose of the stop for needing Lucas to sit in his patrol vehicle. He even admitted that he could have accomplished his objective at the side of her vehicle. He testified he did not see Lucas speed, improperly change lanes or perform any other erratic driving. He did not smell any alcohol on her until she sat in his car and she didn’t show signs of intoxication.
 
“While there is no bright-line test for evaluating whether an investigatory stop satisfies the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment, an investigative stop must be accomplished using the least intrusive means readily available absent some particular circumstance justifying an additional intrusion,” Riley wrote for the majority that included Judge Margret Robb. “Here, the traffic stop was more intrusive than authorized for a permissible investigatory stop because Sergeant Weisner did not articulate a legitimate reason as to why he could not complete his investigation standing alongside Lucas’ vehicle. As a result, suppressing the evidence obtained after Sergeant Weisner unreasonably moved Lucas to his squad car is necessary as a means of deterring police officers from impinging the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment in the future.

Judge Cale Bradford concurred in result in a separate opinion. He did not believe the sergeant’s request that Lucas sit in his patrol car violated her Fourth Amendment rights, but under the circumstances of this case, Lucas was subjected to an illegal custodian interrogation without first being advised of her rights.

The case is Stephanie Lucas v. State of Indiana, 03A01-1309-CR-389.
 

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  • A Boy Named Kriston
    Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?
  • man bites dog
    reading an appeal these days which actually upholds the fourth amendment is kind of a man bites dog types story.... GOOD DECISION!

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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